Friday, June 1, 2012

Brocante markets ... Marché aux Puces

When you think of Paris antique or brocante markets, you naturally think of the sprawling and warren-like acres filling the Marché aux Puces (flea markets) of Clignancourt and St-Ouen to the north of Paris.  The prices are quite high here, but there is bargaining to be done, and shipping is very convenient with several shipping companies having their offices in the markets themselves.

Fossicking around out here in the heat can be hard, and I much prefer to come here in the cooler months.  This market is actually a serious of smaller markets that each tend to have a certain style.  Within each of these market streets or buildings there are dealer stalls and shops.  The Marché Vernaison, off rue des Rosiers is what you would think of as a Paris brocante market, where you find yourself winding around small twisting alleyways and hope that you pop out somewhere you recognise!  There is such a varied mix of items in mostly original condition, and is a brocante hunters heaven.

Others of these markets are within larger buildings with the dealers having more usual 'shop spaces' such as in a shopping mall.  Most dealers stock a 'Paris style' mix of industrial and antique furniture and items, however, many dealers can be extremely specific as to what they stock: be it artwork, architectural fragments, vast fireplaces, silverware, vintage clothing per a specific label Paris label, or Hermes handbags.

Steel buckets from a disused water-wheel, converted to a vertical garden of ivy.

Two matching clocks from a church.

Paul Bert is my personal favourite, as it is more open (and a little cooler at the moment!) with some great stall-owners I keep returning to see.   I love going mid-morning on a Friday.  Most dealers are open but the weekend crowds usually haven't arrived yet, so dealers have time for a chat.

It takes days to cover much of this landscape and because the dealers are each so specialised there are sometimes some amazing items and sights to be had!  And to keep up my energy I love to stop for a mid-morning crepe at one of the vendors, or a coffee and snack at Le Voltaire (corner of rue Voltaire and rue des Rosiers).  In beautiful weather,  I aim to stop for lunch and sit outside in the gorgeous weather at Bistrot Le P'tit Landais (96 rue des Rosiers) at the far entrance to the Paul Bert market.  

There is heaps of information on these markets on the internet (you could start at the St Ouen Tourism website), and there are also market guides you can find (for a fee) who are able to steer you straight to what you want!  Happy hunting!


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